Do Horses Have Nerves In Their Hooves? Do They Feel Pain?

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  • Post last modified:August 3, 2023
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If you are new to horses and love them, then one of the saddest moments is to see shoes being nailed into their hooves. 

You think this can hurt them and wonder why humans are sometimes cruel. If that is true, this little article on ‘Do horses have nerves in their hooves?’ is sure to comfort you. 

So, read on, and you will learn about a horse’s hooves and why it is okay to nail a shoe into their hooves. 

Do Horses Have Nerves In Their Hooves?

Do horses have nerves in their hooves? Hoof care, Scratch out hoof, Horse image

Horses do not have nerve endings in the outer structure of their hooves, which are made of keratin and are similar to human toenails.

However, there are other parts of the hoof that do have nerve endings. For example, the frog, which is located on the bottom of the hoof near the heel, is filled with sensitive nerve endings.

So while horses do not have feelings in the outer structure of their hooves, they can still feel sensations in other parts of their hooves.

Do Horses Feel Pain In Their Hooves?

No, horses generally do not feel any pain in the hooves because the hooves do not contain any pain receptors. 

However, it does hurt when you give a horse a poorly fitting shoe, as this can cause pain to its soft tissues. 

It doesn’t end there. This, in the long run, can also make a horse lame, so if you want the horse to be free from pain, make sure he is wearing a well-mounted shoe. 

Must Read: How A Horse’s Hoof Should Look?

Why Do Hooves Not Hurt Horses?

You saw a bit of this above, but to elaborate, a horse’s hooves do not have any nerve endings, meaning there are no pain receptors. 

Nerve endings are that part of the body’s system that is responsible for helping us sense the different parts of our body and their positions. 

And while a horse has loads of this in his feet, his hooves do not contain them, so one needs to be careful when nailing shoes onto the horse’s feet. 

Does Changing Horseshoes Hurt the Horse?

Red Horse Grazing on Green Pasture at Foot of Mountains

No, changing shoes does not hurt when done correctly and is also very important as, over time, the horse tends to grow a new foot. Now, you didn’t know this, did you? 

In fact, ongoing hoof maintenance and shoeing every 4-6 weeks is a big part of keeping horses healthy, sound, and pain-free. However, the work should be done by someone with experience, such as a farrier.

So, with the new foot comes the need for a new pair of shoes. 

Do Horses Enjoy Being Shooed?

No, they don’t, but they don’t have a problem with it either. It’s like making a toddler sit to put on his shoes.

The only difference here is that the horse feels a blow each time you hammer the shoe on his hoof, but it doesn’t hurt him. 

Perhaps he would wonder what these silly humans are doing. 

Why Do Wild Horses Not Wear Shoes?

This is because these horses, unlike domestic horses, do not need shoes, as they do not get to carry human beings on their backs when galloping on their hooves. 

On the other hand, domestic horses need that extra protection lest their feet come under a lot of pressure which can, in the long run, affect their hooves. 

Also, there is the fact that a wild horse receives a more nutritious diet as he is out there to fend for himself. While humans try our best with our domestic horses, we cannot say how well it strengthens their hooves. 

This only went on to improvise over the ages till we have what we see as the perfect horseshoes that we make our horses wear today

Can Horses Feel When You Cut Their Hooves?

That brings us to the next big question. See, you are actually seeing the horse getting irritated as it stands on three legs. 

But rest assured that he is not feeling any pain when someone cuts his hooves. However, he can feel pain if we are careless and touch the softer part of his hooves. 

This is why it is essential to approach a professional and expert Ferrier who is sensitive enough when dealing with a horse’s hooves. 

And make sure that they have the proper protection on their hooves. 

What Happens If You Don’t Cut Horse’s Hooves?

Brown and White Horse Shoe

Here’s what is going to happen. Over time, your horse’s foot will get distorted, so, like it or not, you have to go ahead and trim his hooves. 

Remember that badly cared for hooves can give a horse many injuries, and not to forget, a lot of fungal infections, bruises, and abrasions that a horse will not like and can be avoided. 

What Is the Most Sensitive Part Of the Horse?

No, it is not the hooves. Instead, a horse has a susceptible nose, mouth, and lips, so be very careful when dealing with these. 

However, the degree of sensitivity can vary from horse to horse. Yet, know that a horse can feel even the slightest touch to its lips, and so, more than the hooves, an owner needs to be especially sensitive when placing a bridle in his mouth. 

And hey, he also has a very sensitive back, so be mindful of your position. Know that you are not on a bicycle but on a horse, so be careful with it. 

Who Invented Horseshoes?

Ah, now you first want to know who the culprit is, but then, to tell you the truth, you can’t credit this to one person as there is a long story behind it. 

Studies say that this was first invented by the Romans, who created the first horseshoe, which was simple with hides and other foliage. 

Are Horseshoes Made Out Of Iron?

Yes, most horseshoes are made of steel iron, but you still have some exceptions. Racehorses, for one, usually wear shoes that come with aluminum since they are lighter and so help these horses run faster. 

Some horses, on the other hand, wear boots which are made out of rubber. This is mainly in the case of an injury to provide a gentle walking surface to the horse’s feet that are probably in pain. 

Can You Reuse Horseshoes?

You can resume them as long as the metal is not worn out. So, all you have to do is pull the shoe off, trim the hooves, and let the horse put on the same shoes. 

This is possible as sometimes your horse’s hooves grow faster than his shoes get old, so you wouldn’t want to invest in another new pair of shoes unnecessarily. 

Do Horses Enjoy Humans?

A Person Holding a Horse

Now all this about riders and hooves may make you wonder if it’s a good idea to sit on a horse’s back now that you know it can damage their hooves. 

Well, the truth here is that you need not worry, for horses enjoy humans, and that also includes taking them for a good long ride on their backs. 

In a way, we bring about a positive reaction with them as they tend to bond with us best unless they have had some horrible past experiences, so make sure you are a good friend to them.

Can Horses Love Their Owners?

Horses are some of the most friendly and affectionate animals you can find and make wonderful pets. 

Unlike a human, a horse cannot directly tell you how much he loves you, but rest assured that if you are treating him right, he does. 

He will neigh aloud when he sees you approach, stay relaxed in your company, respect your instructions, and give you various signs that he loves you. 

Perhaps the cutest is when he blows air into your face. Don’t get annoyed when this happens; he is trying to tell you he loves you. 

Recommended Reading: Do Horses Like Their Hooves Cleaned?

Do Horses Like Being Ridden?

Continuing from what was said above, they say that riding a horse is one of the best ways to let him enjoy our attention. After all, what else does a horse get to show off to his favorite humans? 

Sitting on his back and allowing him to take you to places is one of the best ways to give him some human companionship, but make sure you treat him right and do not go too hard on the whip. 

Do not pull too hard on his reins; understand his body language. Compliment him once in a way. He understands it. 

Final Words

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much of an expert you are at this. Changing the horse’s shoes may not give the horse any pain but is still a rather delicate task that requires you to be sensitive and so make sure that you approach a professional Ferrier who knows how to put on your horse’s hooves. 

For you love your horse and don’t want to cause him any pain, do you? 

Frequently Asked Questions on Do Horses Have Nerves in Their Hooves?

Okay, so before you do, let us look at a few FAQs. 

Q1. Do Horses Feel Human Pain?

Ans: Yes, horses feel pain the same way as humans do. Only, this pain could be much less as the horse comes with a tucker layer of tissue under the skin, which is why it is okay to use a whip, as long as you are not hitting your horse too hard with it. 

Q2. Do Horse’s Hooves Grow Back?

Ans: Yes, and the process takes about an entire year. At this time, ensure your horse’s feet are well cared for and nursed. Doing this will give you the best results. 

Q3. Do horses like it when you kiss them?

Ans: Yes, they do, but honestly, it wouldn’t be a good idea because kissing a horse is like running at the sight of a dog. The horse will merely think you’re playing, and he will hurt you when he kisses you back. Now, you can’t blame him for playing. 

Q4. Do cows wear horseshoes?

Ans: No, for the mere reason that cows do not have the same workload as horses do. They do not carry humans on their backs and so do not feel any pressure on their feet. So, why are they going to need horseshoes?